April 21, 1989 - September 11, 2017
Laura Whittaker of Charlotte died on September 11, 2017 surrounded by her family and several close friends; although she left this world much too soon, she was loved by many whose lives she touched, and she will be sadly missed by all who knew her.
She was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 21, 1989 as the third child of Dennis John Whittaker and Karen Martello Whittaker. She is survived by her parents; grandparents, Louis and Joyce Martello of Metairie, Louisiana; brother, Jeff and wife, Catherine; sister, Kelly and husband, Dr. Nick Chappel; brother, Michael; and nieces, Hazel, Margot, and Louise Whittaker; niece, Claire Chappel and nephew, Jackson Chappel. She was preceded in death by paternal grandparents, Ariel 'Zeke' and Grace Whittaker of River Ridge, Louisiana.
In her early years Laura earned the nickname 'Cootie Jones' by way of a joint effort of older brother Jeff and her dad's creative input, encouraged by the playfulness of the extended Whittaker family. Laura developed a precocious interest in communication and language that propelled her to become a voracious reader, especially of each of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She spent many a midnight hour in bookstore queues seeking each new release only to spend the remainder of the night reading to reach 'The End' in time for breakfast.
She was long known among her many friends for her joyful outlook on life, warm sense of caring for others, and perhaps especially for an adventuresome spirit – she was forever a determined, some might say willful, child. More plainly, Laura could often be described as plenty hard-headed! She was happy to shun convention she perceived to be limiting or unkind. She was forthright and consistently self-assured, but she was also welcoming and open to new people and experience, qualities that served her well in life and helped to inspire others with her energy and freewheeling enthusiasm.
Laura graduated from Myers Park High School in Charlotte before earning a B.A. in English from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Laura spent a semester in Santander, Spain to strengthen her command of Spanish and tastes for international travel; flights to Dublin for her 21st birthday were nearly sabotaged by the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland. Her school years showed her to be a capable student with an aptitude for everything from language studies to physics, yet she always preserved time for good friends, good music, and good fun. In her years at Holy Trinity Catholic Middle School, Laura tested the bounds of misbehavior with Rikki, Katie, and Erin, a clutch of cut-up's self-labelled as the Quad Squad, a foursome of friendships that endured the remainder of her days.
Her career path was one of openness and drive with a dose of flexibility – Laura was quick to apply sales commissions she earned to underwrite a 5-week solo trip to India where she could explore new culture, yoga, and the delicious cuisine she tried to find back home. Always one to pull for the underdog, Laura adopted rescue-dog Penny as her pet and later team mascot, a pup always happy to welcome 'mama' home with frisky figure-eight's in the den.
Laura's openness to adventure and eye for good character led her to enjoy a long courtship by Adam Anderson, a talented graphic artist and photog who became her loving companion, best friend, and sometime motorcycle driver. She and Adam took respite from her medical treatment with travels to California and even a Caribbean cruise; her departure from this Earth came much too soon for Adam's plans. He stood by her throughout a harrowing course of cancer to be again at her side in her last moments, and Adam's kindness, love, and support will be forever remembered by all of Laura's family.
Amid growing pain in her outer left ear, a biopsy in November of 2015 found Laura afflicted with a rare cancer that became an almost 2-year challenge she faced with the same optimism and determination that identified so much about her way of looking at the world. Her battle with cancer inspired the fundraising success of Team Cootie Jones in Charlotte's 24 Hours of Booty, and she spent 2017 as an Intern for 24 Foundation, a role in which she excelled as an articulate resource for social media and communications with a first-hand knowledge of cancer treatment and navigation.
A memorial service and celebration of Laura's life will be held on Saturday, September 16 at 11AM at St. Gabriel Catholic Church with a reception to follow; visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the non-profit 24 Foundation, 801 East Morehead Street, Suite 308, Charlotte, NC 28202, to assist others who struggle with cancer treatment and survivorship.
"Live Like Laura"
"Although I never knew Laura personally, I am friends with Pat Anderson, Adam's mother. Pat always talked about Laura in glowing terms. I know Pat was very happy that Adam was in a loving relationship with Laura. I am so sorry for your loss." ~ Phyllis Garten
"Although I never met Laura myself I felt as if I knew her. My husband and I are friends with Pat and Roy Anderson, Adams parents. We just wanted you to know that we are so sorry for your loss. Pat often spoke of how deeply Adams and Laura cared for each other." ~ Al and Kaye Johnstone
"Dennis and Family, I am so sorry to your loss. I have you all in my thoughts and prayers." ~ Linda Dalton